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Funny Urban Fantasy Fiction

So about the last thing I expected to find at Walmart was a haunted mirror. I wouldn’t have even gone, but Molly broke all of my mirrors when we parted ways, only she screamed about me breaking her heart or something, but let’s be honest, that’s a little dramatic. I didn’t have to spend three hours carefully sweeping shards of heart off my apartment floor. Mirrors break – hearts don’t.

And the thing is, she knows how much those mirrors meant to me, and how much I detest screaming. It’s very unchill, my regimen is extremely demanding, and she knows how much I need my me-time. She knows all this and still did it to me, because – well, I don’t really want to say anything. I don’t like saying bad things about people, because bad things lead to bad thoughts, and bad thoughts lead to skin blemishes and baggy eyes, like Molly has. But if I’m being completely honest, sometimes she’s a bit of a B.

The problem is she’s self-centred instead of me-centred. She doesn’t listen, even when I give her good advice, like when I tell her to give up onions because her breath smells, or point out which of her dresses do make her look fat (hint: it’s all of them), or suggest which yogurts she should eat to clear up that greasy skin.

And in return she just yells at me. Honestly, I put a lot of work into me, so that she can go around bragging to her friends, “Look at that guy! That’s my guy! I’m the luckiest woman on earth.” Is it so much to ask she put in the bare minimum? Honestly, it’s no wonder the relationship didn’t work out. As I told her, “We’re just too different.” Honestly.

I think I’m too charitable.

Anyway, so I see this handsome hand mirror at Walmart. Now, I know what you’re thinking, the store isn’t renowned for its quality, right? Like, it’s all plastic handles and junk. But here’s the thing. I spend a lot of my time enriching my mind too, and that means I read philosophy. And I think it was Socrates that said, “Beauty is only skin deep.”

Right?

That’s deep. Like skin. And if Molly only took care of her skin, she could have been beautiful too. Anyway, what this means is that things that look beautiful, are. And this hand mirror, let me tell you, is one handsome customer, one dashing chap. 

Starless-night black plastic handle, burgundy felt backing – which totally looks like silk from a distance – and silver-ish highlights that absolutely resemble the real thing. I can think of no fewer than seventeen spots in my apartment where I can pose this mirror, and twelve more where we can pose together.

But then, get this. A mirror should resemble its owner, but it should also reflect its owner, so I pick it up. And what do I see?

A woman!

And I say “Whoa!” and so does she, only I can hear her voice and I’m pretty sure mirrors don’t reflect those.

“There’s a man in my mirror,” she says.

“I think you’ll find, there’s a woman in mine.” And worse, there’s no sign of my debonair reflection at all. Although, come to think of it, this woman is breathtaking. “Your skin is flawless.”

“Your smile, perfection,” she replies. She’s right of course, but it’s nice to hear someone say it. What a strange mirror this is. I wonder if I can get a discount.

“So tell me,” she says, “how did you die?”

“What?”

“How come you’re haunting my mirror?”

“No,” I say. “No no. You’re the ghost.”

“I beg to differ. I’m much too pretty to be dead.”

“True,” I say. I run my hand down the mirror’s frame, and so does she. Her nails are in excellent condition. “That would be an unforgivable loss.” She treats me to a smile as charming as my own. “Aphrodite.”

“Adonis,” she whispers back.

For a moment, we’re lost in the gentle tunes popping from the third-rate speakers in the store. We raise our mirrors to eye-level and then spin, dancing like we were the only two people in the world – which we might as well be. I can’t even remember Melissa or Mimsy or whatever her name was.

But then I see something odd over the mirror woman’s shoulder. She’s in the store just as I am, but there’s a big banner hanging from the ceiling, proudly bearing the store’s logo – and it’s red.

“Why’s that banner red?” I ask. “Is there a sale where you are?”

She looks behind her. “No. That’s just a regular Walmart banner. Surely you know red is their colour.”

“Surely I don’t. They’re blue and always have been.”

“Oh,” she says, with an exquisitely calculated raising of her brow. “How garish. What a backwards place you live in.”

I resist scowling, because scowling causes wrinkles. “Well,” I say, “backwards for you, and you being backwards, makes it forwards.”

She sniffs. “Bold words, from a man in a mirror.”

“Except I’m not.”

“But you are.”

“No, it’s you. Anyway.”

“Anyway. You.

“Anyway!”

We turn away from each other. I feel… a hint of irritation. Is this our first fight? She’s so gorgeous, I don’t want to risk losing her. She could be the one, even if she very clearly lives in a mirror.

“I think,” I say, “we’ve gotten off to a poor start.”

“Yes. It would be tragic to lose something beautiful over a silly misunderstanding.”

Yes, she gets me. I smile and she smiles back. Her smile makes me smile more, and my smile makes everyone smile more, because my smile is art. But I must admit, hers is too, in a post-modern kind of way. Yes, she’s the one, I just know it. Let’s do this properly.

I resist clearing my throat, because that’s an ugly thing to do, done by people with ugly throats. Instead, I jump right into it. “My name’s Sam.”

She gasps.

Well, I suppose anyone can make a mistake, and maybe the gasp was even a little adorable. Oh, look at me, rushing to her defense like a knight or something! I am so smitten. Anyway.

My name’s Sam,” she says.

Well now, what are the odds? It’s a beautiful name though, fitting two beautiful people. I wonder what our cute couple name would be?

Probably just Sam.

“Sam Walmsley,” she adds.

Now I gasp – although when I do it it’s less adorable and more projects a masculine aura of ruggedness – because, “That’s my name!”

And then I’m speechless, and so is she. We just look at each other for a moment, and I fear whatever magic I felt a moment ago is quickly vanishing, like trying to hold onto smoke.

“So you’re me,” I say.

“And you’re me. Only, somehow, backwards.”

“Reversed, as it were.”

“Opposite. A figment of some bizarre mirror world.”

I nod. I feel a dull pain in my chest, and – oh! Maybe Melinda was right. Maybe hearts can break. It’s an unpleasant sensation, but curiously, I also don’t feel inclined to smash a bunch of mirrors for no reason, so that still seems like an overreaction.

“You know, it’s funny,” I say. “This reminds me of something Johnny Derner once emailed me.”

“Yeah, I think I know what you’re talking about. Only it was Jeanine Derner, and she told me in person.”

“Well, it was Johnny and an email–”

“–only it wasn’t, because it was Jeanine–”

“–Anyway.

What an irritating person. Anyway. “It’s that old riddle Socrates posed. You run into a clone of yourself. What do you do? Kiss or kill?”

“Or eat, right,” she says. “Yeah, I remember.”

“What do you mean, or eat!? That’s not part of it!”

“Yes, it is. Always has been. And it was Plato.”

“That’s absurd! Maybe that’s the way you backwards people do it in your weird mirror world.”

Yours is the weird mirror world! Who shops in a blue store? It’s gaudy.”

She huffs. I huff. Honestly, the names might just be a coincidence, because there’s no way there’s a version of me out there that’s this frustrating. When I check my watch I see it’s getting late – oh! And look at that, she checks hers too. Who does that? Middle of a conversation with someone and she checks the time. I feel very disrespected right now.

“Well?” she says. Her voice has gone kind of flat. “On three?”

“Fine.”

“Three,” we mumble together, then, “two, one.”

“Kill,” we both say.

“Fine,” I say. “Fine.”

“Fair enough,” she says. “Probably a good place to part ways.”

“Yeah, I think so.” I put the mirror back and see her do the same.

What a B. What an insufferable B.

The mirror’s obviously busted and I could definitely get a discount for it, but honestly I’m done with it. The plastic handle feels weird and the fake-silver is poorly painted, upon closer inspection. I feel like there’s a lesson in all of this, and I sincerely hope for her sake that she learned it.

I grab one of the other mirrors, confirm there’s no one in it but yours truly – ah, there’s that dashing smile! – and head off to the registers.

February 01, 2023 00:24

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37 comments

Lindsey B
20:19 Feb 06, 2023

This was great! I wasn't expecting any story from this prompt to be funny, but this made me grin. (By the way, which yogurts help skin? Asking for a friend.)

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Michał Przywara
21:48 Feb 07, 2023

Ha, I wish I knew :) Thanks for reading, Lindsey! I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

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Graham Kinross
08:47 May 05, 2023

I, Patrick Bateman see no problem with anything Sam did in the story. He sounds like a perfectly reasonable guy. I would also enjoy his yogurt recommendation.

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Michał Przywara
20:36 May 05, 2023

Heh, so would I :) Thanks for reading!

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Graham Kinross
21:37 May 05, 2023

You’re welcome.

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Amanda Lieser
17:34 Feb 12, 2023

Hey Michal! I loved the mythical elements of this piece! It immediately screamed, narcissus, and echo. I also really enjoy the way that you chose the setting of Wal-mart – I think that Wal-mart has a lot of controversy around it as well as a lot of really great things. That’s where I met my husband. :-) I really also enjoyed the way that this dialogue bounced off of each other and the mythic of it all– it felt like Snow White meets Greek mythology. I also picked out a singular line, which I loved that you made as its own paragraph: I think I...

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Michał Przywara
01:48 Feb 14, 2023

Thanks, Amanda! Yeah, I suspect it's impossible to write a self-absorbed mirror story and not in some way reference Narcissus :) The old classics are still relevant today, I suppose. I'm glad you pointed out that line. When I wrote it, I thought, "Wow, what a horrid thing to say about a relationship." But it is horrid-funny :)

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Nona Yobis
03:33 Feb 09, 2023

What a great twist! I love the clever use of the prompt without it being the only theme. By the end of the story, I really felt as if I knew your character. I also love the ending, and how the main character clearly learned nothing at all from the experience. As far as any critique for the story, I would only say that it took me a little bit to feel involved in the story, and I felt as though it really became stronger once he found the mirror. Overall very impressive, good job!!!

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Michał Przywara
21:42 Feb 09, 2023

Thanks, Nona! I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I appreciate the feedback :) The mirror is the main action, so I'll keep that in mind for future stories - perhaps a stronger hook, perhaps less buildup.

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Keith Maynard Jr
12:31 Feb 08, 2023

This was a great laugh and even though once their names were revealed as Sam I figured you were going with the opposite but the same approach it was a great read nonetheless. I however think you should add a space in-between paragraphs. Unless the paragraphs are indented the way you have them could make this entire story feel like one big paragraph. It was a little unsettling/jarring, to be honest.

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Michał Przywara
21:39 Feb 08, 2023

Thanks, Keith! I'm glad you enjoyed it, despite formatting woes. Regarding that, seems like I lose some formatting when I paste from Word. Reedsy does render the text as <p> elements, but they don't have much padding between them. Maybe we can get them to adjust their stylesheet. I appreciate the feedback!

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Keith Maynard Jr
22:10 Feb 08, 2023

In regards to Word, the issue is probably how Word does the formatting. At the least, I tell Word to remove the padding it adds under Layout - Spacing (Before and After). Changing that to zero for both shows that Word didn't add space but simply made the document look like space was added. So you may want to try adjusting that and see.

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Zoë Page
17:41 Feb 06, 2023

I felt this take on the prompt was so imaginative. I love how the way they're going in opposite directions is because they're in opposite worlds - I did wonder what the prompt would inspire, and this was a really good take on it. The way the conversation between the two Sams pretty much represented their vain obliviousness was a funny fantastical idea. I love how male Sam managed to understand that female Sam was him in another world/dimension but didn't manage realise how annoying the female Sam came across to him was exactly how he came o...

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Michał Przywara
21:50 Feb 07, 2023

Thanks, Zoë! "vain obliviousness" - yes, that sounds about right :) We have a tendency to judge others differently from how we judge ourselves, don't we? It was fun playing with this extreme example this week. I appreciate the feedback!

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C.B. Chribby
19:27 Feb 03, 2023

This was fantastic! The internal justification for narcissism was really fun to read, and for a character to be so authentically vain was hilarious. Bravo, keep up the great stuff!

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Michał Przywara
19:00 Feb 04, 2023

Thanks, C. B.! I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

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Suma Jayachandar
16:33 Feb 03, 2023

Ha! Yes, it was time for another one of those over- the -top- too- immersed -in -himself characters that you bring to life with such finesse to make an appearance 😂 Needless to say it was a thoroughly enjoyable read, Michal. Thanks for sharing!

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Michał Przywara
21:35 Feb 03, 2023

Yeah, I thought it was time too :) I struggled with the prompt initially, but then this mirror idea occurred to me, and, well, no sense letting an idea go to waste. Thanks, Suma :)

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Rebecca Miles
15:56 Feb 03, 2023

Ha! I'm so glad this wasn't "kill" as rendered at the end of your "Hey Streamer": I'm still getting the heeby jeebies about that story Michal (just so you know ,-)) So, funny this week, although we might like it if it was kill not kiss for this insufferable Alpha. You delivered him loud and proud in all his puffed-up over-inflated egotism. Loved the snarky way you delivered this: I spend a lot of my time enriching my mind too, and that means I read philosophy. And I think it was Socrates that said, “Beauty is only skin deep.” Right? That’s ...

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Michał Przywara
18:22 Feb 04, 2023

Thanks, Rebecca :) "complete and utter arse" - yeah, that's the idea that came to me, stronger than any other for the prompt. I think if I struggle for ideas, I seem to default to "what's an ugly character trait, and how can we make it (hopefully) funny". Glad it worked out :)

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J.C. Lovero
13:04 Feb 03, 2023

It's been awhile since I've had the pleasure of reading one of your stories, Michał. But I'm glad I stopped by for this one. The humor throughout is excellent. Love the hook at the beginning. Funny enough though, I would actually EXPECT to find something like at Walmart. Because, reasons. What I love underneath all the humor is the central theme of the story. You did it in a very fun and cheeky way with a magical mirror, but it is basically that saying about looking in the mirror and not liking your reflection. But in this case, the narrat...

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Michał Przywara
21:38 Feb 03, 2023

Thanks, J. C.! "so self-absorbed that he can't even see it" - yeah, sometimes we only see what we want to see :) I know I've been there. I guess reality's not good for the ego. And mirrors seem to have long held a special spot in fantasy. Been meaning to hit more stories in that vein. I actually had a plan to do a more traditional fantasy, but then this idea hit, and you know what it's like when an idea hits. Best to roll with it. Thanks for the feedback!

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Helen A Smith
17:30 Feb 02, 2023

It takes one to know one. An unusual response to the prompt. What an annoying character!! Must have been fun to write. I enjoyed reading.

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Michał Przywara
23:16 Feb 02, 2023

Thanks, Helen! Yes, very fun to write about :) I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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Laurel Hanson
15:18 Feb 02, 2023

This is a fantastic read. It's swiftly paced with a wonderfully developed narrator the reader is guaranteed to love to hate. I really enjoy loathsome characters like this. You craft one detail after another to flesh him out. He checks his watch, she checks hers, he thinks, "I feel very disrespected right now," and so on. It's like reading a dissection of a cad done unwittingly by the cad on himself. Love that he does not undergo any epiphany of his own - "I feel like there’s a lesson in all of this, and I sincerely hope for her sake that she...

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Michał Przywara
21:41 Feb 02, 2023

Yeah, characters like this are fun to read, and fun to write :) Narcissus was very much an inspiration, though I also liked that old horror trope of someone looking into a mirror and seeing something else staring back. Only I thought, what if they're so self-absorbed they don't find it frightening? Thanks for reading, Laurel :)

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Riel Rosehill
10:41 Feb 02, 2023

If I were to keep a collection of my favourite sentences, these would have to go in it: "I didn’t have to spend three hours carefully sweeping shards of heart off my apartment floor. Mirrors break – hearts don’t." Such a good start and a fun take on the magic mirror trope. I liked the irony of the ending too: "I feel like there’s a lesson in all of this, and I sincerely hope for her sake that she learned it." Indeed... :)

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Michał Przywara
21:55 Feb 02, 2023

Heh, thanks Riel :) I liked those lines too. It's good when (other) people learn lessons :) There's a lot of fun to be had with mirrors, and with self-absorbed characters.

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Sophia Gavasheli
03:06 Feb 02, 2023

Solid, solid, very clever. This reminds me of Sjan Evardsson's "We/I." First of all, Sam's voice was very distinguished; his complete lack of self-awareness bled through in every line. We can tell this from the beginning, but it's even clearer when he talks to his alternate self. It's so ironic that he views the other Sam as "irritating," but views himself as perfect even though their personalities are the same. To us, both Sams are basically mirrors, but to Sam, his reflection is completely different because of his lack of self-awareness. ...

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Michał Przywara
21:49 Feb 02, 2023

Thanks, Sophia! I think you got everything I was going for :) And then dug in even deeper :) There is something in us, where we perceive our own selves and actions differently than other people. In this case, overly positive, but in other cases, people might see themselves in an unfairly negative light too. But it's hard being objective about ourselves, isn't it? Maybe impossible. And if we don't like what reality is telling us, well, maybe it's reality that's wrong :) Thanks for the great feedback!

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Tommy Goround
02:44 Feb 02, 2023

Nice balance. Seemed like Charlie Fisk had one about "The Man Who Married Himself." All quite legal if Melinda/Melissa/Mimsy don't object. The lovely attitude of the narrator (a man who really knows himself) -- did you have any get-into-character exercises? When I want to write about my spouse I put my hand in the toaster and step on a nail. (She's really quite nice a person and that is hard to write about). So bravo. The word for today is perruche.

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Michał Przywara
21:46 Feb 02, 2023

Thanks! No get-into-character exercises this time around, but I was calling on an experience from a few years ago, where I portrayed an androgynous Sin of Pride on stage, for a students' night at one of the local theatres. The role was a self-absorbed wanker, and the main prop was a hand mirror. It was fun. And thanks for perruche - learned something today :)

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Lily Finch
04:41 Feb 01, 2023

Michał, I enjoyed this story. It was very reminiscent of Narcissus' story. Knowing that we have estrogen and testosterone in our bodies regardless of sex, it is quite apropos that you have a man in the mirror and a woman in the mirror. Dualities always make for great stories. Good job! Thank you for the good read. LF6

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Michał Przywara
21:43 Feb 01, 2023

Thanks, Lily! Yeah, Narcissus was certainly an inspiration. That era really did generate a wealth of stories, which are still relevant today. I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

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Wendy Kaminski
02:25 Feb 01, 2023

This was so much fun, Michał! Your pompous ass main character was horribly delightful - or delightfully horrible? (hint: it’s all of them) lol - I can’t even remember Melissa or Mimsy or whatever her name was. - I feel very disrespected right now. - I feel like there’s a lesson in all of this, and I sincerely hope for her sake that she learned it. You say he's good lookin'? I say he's fine AND dandy. ;) Really enjoyed it!

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Michał Przywara
21:47 Feb 01, 2023

Thanks, Wendy! There's something really fun about writing these kinds of characters :) I just hope it's not a subconscious thing, and I'm actually like this :P As a precaution, I've thrown out all my mirrors. I appreciate the feedback!

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Jack Hillier
11:38 Feb 10, 2023

What a great twist! I love the clever use of the prompt without it being the only theme. By the end of the story, I really felt as if I knew your character. I also love the ending, and how the main character clearly learned nothing at all from the experience. As far as any critique for the story, I would only say that it took me a little bit to feel involved in the story, and I felt as though it really became stronger once he found the mirror. Overall very impressive, good job!!!

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